Avoid mass tourism on an eco boat in the backwaters of Kerala

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A fresh breeze blows into your face, the palm trees on the shore move with the rhythm of the waves on the water. The boat sails through the canals, on the shore you see people washing their clothes and time seems to have stopped. Believe it or not, this scene is set in hysterical India, on a boat trip through the backwaters in Kerela. For decades, tourists from all over the world have been coming to southern India to admire the endless network of canals and rivers. An activity that attracts hundreds of tourists every day. We will tell you now how you can avoid being surrounded by tourists and at the same time minimize your impact on the environment.

Google ‘houseboat, backwaters’ and you will find many options. From an afternoon floating around to a whole week on the water, privately or with a group; there is a huge amount of choice. It soon dawned on us that there might be a bit too many options. So when we asked other travelers and locals for advice we heard that if you are not careful, you will soon find yourself in a traffic jam to get onto the water and  later you will be surrounded by rattling engines for the rest of the day. 

2000 boats a day

Houseboat cruises are a huge industry and tourists pay good money for a night in a traditional boat. To meet the demand, hundreds of original transport boats are equipped with one or more bedrooms, a toilet and kitchen and a motor to keep the boat moving. As a result every day almost 2000 boats dump their toilet water into the canals. The air and water are heavily polluted by the exhaust gases from all those diesel engines. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the vast majority of the operators dump their waste like plastic bottles overboard. More than 10,000 plastic bottles end up in the water every day.  

Eco-friendly alternative

So when looking for an alternative we found Thara's Eco Houseboat. Thara’s Eco Houseboat is built in traditional Kerala style, inspired from Kettuvallam.

Their solar powered houseboat is eco-friendly and we had 2 nights on Thara's eco houseboats and could have happily stayed longer. It is amazing to sit on the sun deck and watch the scenery go by. If you stay only a few nights you tend to be in the more crowded areas of the waterways, but we got to see much more of the area and were often the only boat around. The food was incredible and they serve all local dishes. The boat was very comfortable and on booking.com they get a well deserved average rating of 9.6.

Best time to visit

Winter is the high season of Kerala which starts in September and ends March. The weather remains pleasant and cool during this season. Most people will say that this is the perfect time for a holiday in Kerela. Summer in Kerala starts in the month of March and continues until May. During this season there is more rain in Kerala and the weather is warm and humid. However, it is not as humid as during the rainy season and you will find a lot less tourists.

The rainy season in Kerala starts in the month of June and ends around August. Heavy rain provides a fresh view of the entire region and makes it a lot greener. Thunderstorms are a common this season. We don't recommend visiting Kerala in this season. Click here for more climate details in Allepey.

This article was last updated on March 29, 2021.